An ex-soldier has told how she is still battling for justice almost 20 years after she was almost killed – by the contraceptive PILL.
Trudi Banning was just 23-years-old when she collapsed after suffering two blood clots at an army base in Abingdon, Oxon., in October 1996.
She was rushed to a military hospital in Swindon, Wilts., where doctors found her intestine was infected with gangrene.
Shockingly, Trudi – now 42 – had suffered two blood clots which meant 80 per cent of her intestine had been starved of oxygen and had died inside her.
Surgeons removed the infected intestine in an emergency operation and the soldier, who served with the Royal Logistic Corps, was left in a coma for six months.
Trudi was transferred to a military hospital in Gosport, Hamps., where she was hooked up to 13 life support machines and medics warned her devastated father she might never wake up.
She eventually recovered six months later but had to teach herself to walk and talk again and was also left with no job after she was medically discharged from the Army.
Doctors told Trudi they put her near-fatal illness down to the contraceptive pill Femodene, which she has been taking since she began her army training in 1991.
She then joined 100 other women in taking a case to the High Court against the pill manufacturers Organon Laboratories, Schering Healthcare and Wyeth.
They claimed the new third generation pills were of greater risk to women and they should have been warned of the dangers.
However, the case collapsed in 2002 when Mr Justice Mackay ruled in favour of the pharmaceutical companies, saying there was no evidence the pills had an increased risk of causing blood clots.
But Trudi – who was left unable to have children because surgeons had to remove her ovaries – has refused to give up her battle for justice and is looking to launch further legal action.
She said: “I lost my career, and will never have children.
“But every time I see that another girl has died it really hurts. Every time that I see the pill has taken another victim I feel angry and upset.
“The pill can be a killer but they say it doesn’t kill. How many more women have to die before they admit it is a danger?
“How many more women have to die before people sit up and listen?
“I don’t want to see any more young girls lose their lives.
“The women that were involved and myself haven’t got the money it takes, we had legal aid for the first case.
“We need somebody to sit down with us and take the case back on so we can get the justice we deserve.”
Trudi, who lives with her fiance in Leamington Spa, Warks., believes she only survived the blood clots because the Army had a duty to keep her alive and pay for her treatment.
The former squaddie, who now works as a security guard, added: “I didn’t have any symptoms in the days leading up to it. The only thing I noticed was a niggling pain.
“I went to the medical centre, where the doctor reluctantly agreed to send me for some blood tests. But I collapsed before I could get there.
“They told my dad not to just think of taking it day by day, or hour by hour, but rather minute by minute.
“Parts of my intestine were sent off for testing at Oxford University and they found the gangrene was overactive with oestrogen.
“When I woke up from the coma I didn’t know where I was. I was scared, and had tubes coming out of my throat, chest, and even between my toes.”
“If it hadn’t been for the fact I was in the military and they had an obligation to keep me alive then I would be dead.
“The NHS would not have paid all that money to keep me on life support for so long waiting for my body to recover.”
Trudi claims she was told to start taking the pill in order to “have a career” by the Army while training at barracks in Guildford, Surrey, something which they deny.
She carried on taking it for four-and-a-half years with no apparent side effects except for putting on weight until her collapse.
Trudi added: “We did what we were told. I was there to stay, so I started the pill.
“There was a group of around 18 women. We were weighed, they took our blood pressure, and then they dished them out like sweets.”
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has said women should continue to take their contraceptive pill after a 2014 review deemed it was safe.
A spokesperson said: “The safety of contraceptive pills was reviewed at European level in 2014 and the review confirmed that the risk of blood clots with all contraceptives is small.
“The benefits of any combined hormonal contraceptive far outweigh the risk of serious side-effects.
“Prescribers and women should be aware of the major risk factors for blood clots and the key signs and symptoms.”
* Last month, the devastated parents of a young teaching assistant told how they believe the contraceptive pill Rigevidon killed their 21-year-old daughter.
Tragic Fallan Kurek collapsed at home in Tamworth, Staffs., and turned blue after she stopped breathing.
She was rushed to hospital but was pronounced brain dead after three days in intensive care and passed away hours later on May 14.
Her cause of death was recorded as pulmonary embolism on her lung and her parents Brian, 52, and Julia, 43, say doctors told them it was caused by the contraceptive pills she had been taking for just 25 days.